Monday, 26 September 2011

some more foolproof recipes

Over the weekend, Andy was covering some more of my Youth Adviser work for me so was out all day Saturday. It's crazy to think that these dates for youth leader training (Equipping) and Growing Young Leaders (last Thursday) have been in the diary longer than I have been pregnant! But I'm very grateful to him (and Liz and Lucy too) for being willing and so enthusiastic to step in and keep things ticking over. I think they've enjoyed the experience?!

Anyhow, it meant that me and the Bean had a Saturday just the two of us which is quite a rare thing - and once we had got going over breakfast and some Cbeebies, she had her first dancing class of the new term. It's a class where they mix Ballet, Tap and Street Dance together which is right up her street and although she had a bit of an attack of the nerves just before going in, she had a brilliant time. The bonus for her is that the lessons are a full hour long which means she gets really 'in the zone' and also that the venue is literally opposite our house!

Once we'd got home and had some lunch we embarked on some baking - Damp Lemon Loaf Cake from Nigella's Domestic Goddess which I have made before (see this post)
I also took a risk and made Nigella's Fresh Gingerbread with lemon icing which is a stable part of our diet! (Good recipe and online review here) I say a risk because I was in the midst of making gingerbread when I eventually went into labour with the Bean, 12 days late! So it's always had a reputation in our household of being 'Matilda's gingerbread' and she gets a birthday cake of gingerbread every year! (for my pregnancy/maternity diary from nearly 5 years ago, you can check out my other blog here)
Half the gingerbread is now in the freezer for another occasion and half is - almost finished!

Yesterday, I also made a lovely Sunday dinner in the Crock Pot - a boneless pork shoulder joint with 2 onions, some italian seasoning and 2 cans of ginger beer chucked over - cooked for 6 hours and the juices reduced into a spicy and sweet gravy. Served with roast potatoes and green beans from my dad's garden. Again, half was eaten yesterday with the rest in the freezer for meals over the next few weeks. It was yummy - tender, sweet and sour in a way and so easy!

Pregnancy wise, I'm starting to get my head round potentially being pregnant for a good while yet - my due date is 10 days away and history dictates that I'll probably be late. I had wondered whether finishing work might get things moving as I stopped moving, but it hasn't happened yet! While it would be nice to be early or soon, there are no signs of anything happening as yet, apart from backache and just restlessness in the evenings but that is pretty normal. Baby Squid is measuring small (36 cm and I'm 38 weeks) - not in a concerning way but because it's head is now engaged it has a bit more room to grow and the midwives are hoping to see my bump size become a little more commensurate with my number of weeks by the time I see them next.
It gives us time to get a bit more idea of names...our initial shortlist has been scrapped, reinstated and rejigged quite a bit over the last few days and we have a shortlist now which isn't exactly inspiring me. I think I'm hoping for a name to smack me round the head, like Matilda Grace did but that hasn't come yet. So, baby Squid may be nameless apart from being a sea creature for a few days!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

one week in...

So, I'm a week into maternity leave, almost - so far it's been a good few days! I'm appreciating the fact that my day is bookended by the school run, not that I'm always doing that role but I am up and about to help with the lunches, getting dressed and hair trauma! Having the Bean back around 3.15pm is a new experience for us as we've had childcare for 4 years which usually ran til 4.30pm but we have been able to put in some baking, colouring, arts and crafts, playtime, watching a movie and a visit to Barleylands in that new window of time which is great. It's almost a pocket of the day that I didn't know existed!
Andy has had his first 3 days at St Mellitus College, starting his ordination training; 1 Induction and 2 lecture days. He's embarking on learning Greek and has an initial module on Christian Theology to start him off. With his new iPad in tow he is enjoying the student life and the London buzz as well as the various church activities he'll be involved in - men's ministry, a new group for Dad's and Babies (very convenient) and a variety of youth work. He's enjoying being at home more in the day I think and it's certainly reassuring for me to have him around as we wait for Baby Squid's arrival.
I had my 38 week midwife visit today which felt like more of a trek than normal (30 minute drive from new house to St Peter's Hospital where I hope to deliver...) as I am much more uncomfortable driving now. Baby Squid's head is engaged and although baby is measuring a little smaller than expected, there is no cause for concern as there has been growth since 36 weeks and it's expected that the space left by the shifting of the head will get filled by growth over the next few weeks - oh joy! Not sure I have any more room! In theory anyway, head being engaged means we're looking at D-Day being any day now.
I finally packed my bag, baby's bag and M's bag for the big event yesterday - and did a little bit of extra shopping today to stock up on the lovely necessities for after birth (breast pads and maternity towels...) and some snacks and treats to keep me, and Andy, going!

Just finally, to add to the recipe bank, I made a dinner tonight using a fresh spinach and ricotta pasta pack which I just cooked as instructed. I then made a sauce with finely chopped spring onions, green beans and mushrooms plus pesto (2 teaspoons) a tablespoon of cottage cheese and some cream cheese. Very yummy, M ate all the vegetables and it was a good portion size for the 3 of us.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Made today in Smith Kitchens...

Korean Beef from this blogpost
This quantity is good for 2 people if you serve with just rice and small veg side. It could be stretched further with more red/yellow/green peppers added and with more sides like pak choi, asparagus or broccoli.

Turkey Meatloaf from this recipe
This recipe suggests using a big baking dish and forming the shape of the meatloaf within it. I think our mince is different to American ground meat and is a bit wetter so I used a 2lb loaf tin, well oiled and still put the tomatoes and onions over it. It fitted perfectly.

Also doing a Roast Chicken, with chipotle style crust which we'll have a bit of cold tomorrow and I'll shred and freeze the rest to have ready for Quesadillas, curries, salads etc. Then use the carcass to make some stock for soups and a Chilli/Bean/Chicken thing that I have in mind but need to find the recipe for.

House is smelling good and after doing a massive (£245 worth) shop this morning with 3 kids (only 1 was ours!), husband and bump in tow, I'm pretty pooped!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Maternity Leave - bulk cooking for 4!

I started maternity leave yesterday and despite everyone's suggestions at just resting, sleeping and putting my feet up...I'm on a bit of a mission! Planning some cooking sessions while I still have just about enough energy and thought I'd post some of my planned concoctions/recipes on here in case anyone wants to steal them or adapt them.
Obviously, there is nothing special about these recipes - they have no special qualities other than being easy to prepare, easy to freeze and yummy without much effort at the other end.

So, starting off with a family favourite - I call this American Lasagne, only because it was given to me while I was in Tennessee last year and it is a layered beef and pasta dish. Officially, the recipe is called Company Casserole:

 Winny Palmer's ( Arnold's wife)  Company Casserole
1lb lean ground beef mince
1-2 cans chopped tomatoes (I prefer to use 2)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 8oz. carton sour cream
1  "        "         cottage cheese
1 "       pkg. cream cheese softened
(all these can be low or nonfat)
1 bunch chopped spring onions
8oz bag egg noodles or tagliatelle
Brown ground beef. Add garlic powder & tomatoes, simmer for 20 min.
Mix cheeses and spring onions together.
Cook noodles/pasta in salted water as directed on box.
Assemble: pour 1/3rd meat & sauce on bottom of 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish, place 1/2 noodles next, then 1/2 cheeses , 1/3 meat sauce, last half of noodles and cheeses and meat sauce to cover.
Bake 375F 190 C Gas 5 degrees on a baking tray in case of overflow. 

45 min cooking time. let stand 10 min before serving.

This quantity has made enough for us 3 (2 adults and 1 child) to eat 2 days in a row - a massive portion on the first night and a good portion with salad on the second night! It is so good when it is left over for the next day. You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate, then bake it when you are ready to serve or it freezes well if you do the mince in advance and freeze in batches and then add the other elements when you're ready.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Huddles, Building a Discipling Culture and 3dm resources

As part of my job for the Chelmsford Diocese, I've had the privilege of gathering monthly with a bunch of amazing youth workers from across South East Essex for the last few years - mainly Anglican based but increasingly coming from other churches, organisations and charities. Called 'The Hub' we meet for mutual support, prayer, resourcing, training, input and much laughter, knowing we all come with the same passion for young people, mission and discipleship but from different contexts and backgrounds.

We've worked gradually through LifeShapes as a discipleship tool - for youthwork and for mission and for church leadership and it's been a really fruitful time. I've loved being able to share this Rule of Life with them and seeing people 'get it' and in turn seek God more and more for their journey and that of those they lead.

Yesterday, as it was my last 'Hub' before maternity leave, I decided to more formally introduce the concept of a Huddle - which is what we have been doing informally anyway! They just might not have known it! Huddles are a group of leaders who gather together specifically for ongoing support and accountability in the journey with Jesus. It's about developing Christ like character and leadership skills, being reflective and open and receiving and giving challenge. A Huddle leader helps those in the group process what God is saying to them and in turn release these leaders to be leaders themselves in their context.

Yesterday we used the material provided by 3dm on their website  which is great stuff and stimulated lots of discussion, prayer and unpacking for us all at the start of this new term.

Incidentally, yesterday 3dm released their e-book version of Building a Discipling Culture which is a brilliant resource book,  taking in all the stuff around LifeShapes and Huddles as well as applying that more widely to developing Missional Communities. There are 2 other books also released at the same time which represents the core content for building missional churches and communities, but the BDC book specifically is a second edition with almost 50% more content, focusing particularly on using Huddles.
I can't recommend it enough - as we begin our new ministry in Billericay it's our foundation of understanding of how Jesus drew people to himself and made disciples and it's what we should all be about. But it's practical too, easy to read, life changing and yet simple.
Get it here...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Big School

Baby Bean started at Infant School today - all in a bit of a rush in the end. Because our housing circumstances changed, we applied at a late date for the school behind our new house...a Church of England school with outstanding OFSTED report. We didn't hold out much hope to be honest so were still prepared to do the 6 mile round trip twice a day to take her to her original school in Billericay.
However, yesterday we got a phone call to say there was a place for her and she started today! If she had gone to the other school as planned, she wouldn't have started til Monday and would have done half days til 10th October! But she's straight in here, full days and she's loving it so far!

We're very proud of her - there has been a lot of change over the last few weeks, with more to come and she has taken it mostly in her stride. She was excited this morning, happy when she knew her teacher's name and came home having made a few friends, just not remembering all their names as yet! Highlights seemed to have been having to put her hand up when the register was called and also eating her lunch at a long bench in the school hall!
So, one milestone is reached and we watch and wait to see how this new life in education works out for her. For us, as long as she thrives and develops a love of learning, alongside her already well formed love of books, music and creativity, we'll be happy.
And this little girl becomes a big sister in just a few short weeks - wowzers!